CVMS teacher’s aide Denise Terry is retiring after 29 years in special education
The moment when “it clicks” for a student with a learning disability is what teaching is all about for Carson Valley Middle School special education teacher’s aide Denise Terry.
“I enjoy when a kid gets what we are trying to teach them and they get that light-bulb moment,” she said.
Terry is retiring after 29 years of providing special needs education for sixth-to ninth-graders.
She worked with other teachers in the classroom to help students with disabilities absorb material.
Science teacher Lorraine MacLeod said Terry was valuable to her, and that she always looked forward to having her in her classroom.
“She was extremely organized and very dedicated,” said MacLeod. “She was fun to have around and the kids loved her.”
Terry said she always enjoyed working with kids but never sought out a career in special needs education.
“It wasn’t until I started working with (students with disabilities) that I wanted to do something in special education,” she said. “I enjoyed their love for learning.”
Terry recalled a student with a memory disability, who worked hard every day to overcome her challenges.
“She worked her butt off, and had so much potential and will to keep going,” she said. “Those are the kids that stand out, the ones who are hard workers and do their best everyday”
Part of her job as a special education teacher was to take the students into the community and introduce them to different experiences and lessons they would have to face outside school, such as busing tables at local restaurants, making T-shirts at a screen printing shop and learning grooming skills at a hair salon.
“The point was to introduce them to different experiences and opportunities so they can be productive citizens,” she said.
Terry knows she achieved her goal when she sees her students participating in the community.
“Seeing them become productive citizens is really amazing,” she said. “These kids work so hard, it’s neat to see. It gives you goose bumps.”
A retirement party was held at Lampe Park on Thursday where friends, family and co-workers came to bid Terry farewell.
“She’s a great lady,” said CVMS teacher and office aide Monica Bingham. “She’s patient, kind and has a great sense of humor. She would always make the students laugh and knew how to engage them and get them involved.”
Terry said she will miss the students, faculty and staff at the middle school, but is looking forward to doing something new.
“I am sad to be leaving, but I am happy for the new things I will be able to do and enjoy,” she said.